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Advice on new organic raised bed garden

12 years ago

This is my first try at organic gardening. I have read so many websites/forums/blogs etc. trying to be as prepared as possible. There is such a variety of information that I have thoroughly confused myself! I'm having trouble already and I'm only 10 days in.

Beds and Soil

We constructed 3 raised beds, 3 x 6, 17 inches high. Since we needed a large amount of soil to get started, I bought in bulk. The first truckload I purchased was mostly screened topsoil with a good bit of sand and minimal compost material. The second truckload I purchased from another company was advertised as mature compost made up of spent grain from a local brewing company, composted horse manure and "zoo poo" from our local zoo. I worked some of the second load into the first, but the top 5 inches is primarily the compost load.


I did not add anything else to the soil, believing the mature compost would provide the needed nutrients to the plants initially. (The company I purchased it from planted directly in the same batch of compost and everything looked like it was doing well at their farm.) I did expect possibly adding fish emulsion, compost tea or similar later during the season if needed and my own compost at the end of the season. (Not ready yet.)

Vegetables Planted

I planted quite the variety, mostly following the square foot gardening method - tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, okra, mesclun, carrots, beans, eggplant and melons. The tomatoes I purchased from a local botanical society sale, the peppers, zukes, squash and cukes I purchased as small plants from HD and the remaining vegetables I grew from seed.


I watered everyday from days 1-7 with a garden hose in the early morning, believing the newly transplanted plants needed extra water while acclimating and seeds while germinating. I made sure the soil was thoroughly soaked down to 3-4 inches. We have had no rain. (Now I�m thinking I may have overwatered.)

The Problems

On day 3 I noticed something was munching on my cukes and peppers (planted very far apart in different beds.) On day 5 I noticed ALL my plants were yellowing. By day 7 everything was worse and I rushed to my local nursery. They recommended to water less, Neem for the pests and Foxfarms Big Bloom liquid fertilizer for all plants for the yellowing. The fertilizer is .01-.3-.7 and is made up of worm castings and bat guano. I applied the fertilizer that night as directed. The following night I thoroughly applied Neem to the peppers and cukes, front and back of leaves and stems. (I was concerned about stressing them out by doing both on the same day.) I have not watered since then.

It is now day 11 and things aren�t looking better. I�m sure the yellowing will take more time to correct, but I found more bugs on the cukes and peppers I just sprayed with Neem and they are wilting quite a bit.


1. Is there anyway to determine whether my cukes and peppers are being attacked by pests because they are sick (i.e. lacking in some sort of nutrient) or sick/wilting due to the pest attack? I don�t know which problem to address first or if I should be treating them at the same time.

2. Has anyone used the FoxFarm Big Bloom fertilizer? When I google it there are a lot of reviews on, ummm, shall I say "herbal refreshment" websites, but none by traditional gardeners.

3. Could this be a result of the compost not being "finished" and pulling nitrogen from the soil?

4. Should I mulch on top of the soil I have now? If so, what kind of mulch for the beginning of the season?

In the meantime, is there anything else I could be doing? I�m really worried everything is going to die before I get this figured out. (One tomato is already on life support � doesn�t look good for her at all.) I plan on getting a soil test done, but that will take a couple of weeks to come back. In retrospect I should have done that first, but I really trusted the guy I purchased the compost from & he assured me it was ready to be planted in. Live and learn! Thanks in advance for any advice!!!!!

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